The top court said no citizen should be allowed to take the law into their hands and it was the duty of the state to ensure maintenance of law and order.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Parliament to consider creating a new penal provision to deal with incidents of vigilantism, saying that mobocracy cannot be allowed in society, Bar and Bench reported. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra decried cases of lynching and cow vigilantism.
“No citizen can take law into his hands nor become law unto himself,” the Supreme Court said. “Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm and have to be curbed with iron hands… It is the duty of state to ensure maintenance of law and order so as to protect secular ethos and prevent mobocracy.”
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud listed several measures for the Centre and states to take to ensure that law and order is maintained. “In case of fear and anarchy, the state has to act positively,” the court said, according to the Hindustan Times.
The court also asked the government to broadcast, on several forms of media including radio, television and government websites, that mob violence would be dealt with seriously under the law. It has sought a compliance report from the Centre and states.
The bench was hearing a batch of petitions, including one filed by the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi – Tarun Gandhi – and another by social activist Tehseen Poonawalla, seeking to curb violence by cow vigilante groups.
In her petition, Poonawalla said that the “menace caused by the so-called cow protection groups is spreading fast to every nook and corner of the country, and creating disharmony between various communities and castes”. She also alleged that the police and other law enforcement agencies are either complicit in the actions of cow vigilantes or remain mute spectators.
“Supreme Court has said that it is the duty of the states to ensure inclusive social order, no mobocracy can be allowed,” Poonawalla told reporters after the hearing.
Earlier in July, the top court had said that it was up to the states to prevent incidents of cow vigilantism. The court has posted the matter for further hearing on August 28.
In September 2017, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre and state governments to take urgent steps to curb incidents of cow vigilantism. The court had asked each state to appoint a senior police official to serve as the nodal officer in each district to ensure that such incidents do not take place.
In January, while hearing Gandhi’s plea, the bench asked the three state governments to explain why they had not followed its order.